EDUCATION & ARTIST BACKGROUND
Art has played a dominant role in my life since a very early age. With ongoing support from my friends and family, I’ve seldom had doubts about my abilities. The following is a brief look at my prior education and artistic influences.
I attended the Shining Mountain Waldorf School in Boulder, CO, from first through twelfth grades. Waldorf schooling strongly emphasizes creative hands-on learning, independent thinking, and a supportive community. There, I got my first taste of wood carving, painting, form drawing, wax and clay sculpting, and many other forms of art. In high school, my talented art teachers inspired and motivated me to move on with my artistic pursuits. During my senior year, we collectively took on stone carving. I learned a lot from observing others’ tactics and approaches to the project. I became more aware of the processes of art and carried my interests on to my college classes. Ultimately, art became a deeply ingrained part of my identity early on.
My roots lie in Switzerland. Both of my parents immigrated to the States separately, Colorado specifically, in the late 1970s in search of opportunity and adventure. They found both, as well as each other, leaving my sister and me with a lot of Swiss tradition growing up. This allowed America to be fresh and new to us, and our parents. It still is to this day. There are several artists actively pursuing careers in my bloodlines. I studied briefly under one; my uncle Walter Odermatt. His ice-carving business was located in Houston, Texas. Under his instruction, I began to develop artistic competence and decisiveness. Ice carving is a fast-paced process; ice melts all too quickly when you’re working on it. After a few inspiring summers working with him, as well as successfully completing high school, I moved to Alamosa, CO, to attend Adams State College in the fall of 1999. I was privileged to study under and next to many extraordinary artists. The geography and environment were both conducive to my learning. Through many great risks, adventures, struggles, and successes, I persevered and graduated four years later with a Bachelor of Arts with an emphasis in painting, and two minors in both philosophy and business.
My artistic ambitions lead me to Bozeman, Montana. There, I worked with a skilled fine furniture builder and started exploring the many ways I could contribute to home furnishings. After tremendous improvements and growth, I found employment at a local bronze foundry as a welder and metal chaser. Assembling and repairing fine bronze sculptures helped refine my skills and further develop my attention to detail. I worked exclusively on other artist’s sculptures at the foundry, which proved beneficial in my personal growth. After only six intense months at the foundry, I returned to Colorado based on personal and family-related motives.
Over the next decade, I reached out in numerous Artistic directions. I joined the Colorado Carvers Club, a non-profit group of woodcarvers meeting year-round. The group varied from beginners to experts. There I took classes, taught classes, judged shows, and took part in leadership. I was a content member of this group for a decade. I also got involved in the Creede Woodcarvers Rendezvous, an annual carving event held in a tiny Colorado mining town. There I took classes, taught classes, and helped in organization and leadership over several years.
During this time I was carving doors for several Denver door companies, mantels, chainsaw carvings, and custom pieces for clients. I carved on-site in several log homes. With a clear plan, design, and careful preparation, I completed these carvings in a short time with very little room for error.
I got a job running a CNC lathe for Omerica Organic, a company specializing in custom wooden earrings “plugs”. There I was properly introduced to rare exotic hardwoods. I was paid by the piece, and ultimately became “too efficient”, it was a gentle reminder to work for myself.
In between Art projects, I painted parking lots at night to supplement my income. It was very dirty and unhealthy work. It did teach me great patience and determination. Only one line can be painted at a time, there is a point when the job is finished. This patience translates well in my more detailed Art pursuits.
I joined the Denver Art Society. A co-op gallery dedicated to uncensored Artistic freedom. There I connected with excellent Artists of all walks of life and Art methods. From stone carvers, painters, graffiti Artists, to musicians, poets, and dancers, it was a melting pot of creative people from across the city. It’s located in the Santa Fe Arts District, host to the largest “First Friday” Art gatherings in the state. I was a member for several joyful years just after its founding, it is still thriving today.
Over this decade, I also fell deeply in love with the Art of gardening. Inspired by my mother, I specialized in exotic tomatoes and peppers. I built greenhouses, saved seeds, took photos, and watched them evolve year to year. I always planted extras to share far and wide. This deepened my appreciation of nature, its cycles, and abundance.
I shared my Art with the public in numerous shows over the years. The Loveland Sculpture Show, Santa Fe Art Walk, Denver Home, and Garden Show, Taste of Colorado, Cider Days, SMWS Winter Fair, CCC Carving Show, NCWC Carving Show, Art Show judged by the blind, and Wooden Roots Wooden Fruits, my own Solo Art Show.
After a decade of teaching students older than me, an opportunity arose to teach middle school woodwork at the same school I attended. Working with students 10 to 15 years old (5th-8th graders) was a challenge. I embraced it and soaked it up. It was a pleasure to be “Mr. Odermatt”, to set an example, hold the space, be a protector, and share my honest love and esteem for Art. The students brought up a new level of accountability in me, they perhaps taught me as much as I taught them. I was only there two short years, I wish it had been longer. Over the summer my stable housing of 13 years abruptly tripled in cost. This caused me to make quick decisions, quit my jobs, sell my shop, downsize, move out, and begin the search for my new home and place to thrive Artistically.
It has now been a few years, this search continues. From time in Hawaii to Alaska, we’ll see where else it takes me. I’m willing and able to travel anywhere if the Art job is viable. Dedicated does what it always did, it stays dedicated kid. To be continued as more life unfolds.
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